Xenografted tissue models for the study of human endometrial biology

Satu Kuokkanen, Liyin Zhu, Jeffrey Pollard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The human endometrium undergoes extensive morphological, biochemical and molecular changes under the influence of female sex steroid hormones. Besides the fact that estrogen stimulates endometrial cell proliferation and progesterone inhibits this proliferation and induces differentiation, there is scant knowledge about precise molecular mechanisms underlying human endometrial biology. The importance of paracrine signaling in endometrial physiology explains why in vitro culture of endometrial cells has been challenging. Researchers, therefore, have developed alternative experimental in vivo models for the study of endometrial biology. The objective of this review is to summarize the recent developments and work on these in vivo endometrial research models. The in vivo recombinant tissue models in which wild-type endometrial cells are combined with endometrial cells from a gene-targeted mouse strain followed by xenografting to host mice have been critical in confirming the significance of paracrine signaling between the epithelium and stroma in the growth regulation of the endometrium. Additionally, these studies have uncovered differences between the mouse and human, emphasizing the need for the development of experimental models specifically of the human endometrium. Recently, xenotransplants of human endometrial fragments into the subcutaneous space of host mice and endometrial xenografts of dissociated and recombined epithelial and stromal cell beneath the kidney capsule of immunodeficient host mice have proven to be highly promising tools for in vivo research of endometrial functions. For the first time, the latter approach provides an immense opportunity for the technology application of genome engineering, such as targeted ablation of endometrial genes for example by using CRISPR/CAS9 system. This research will begin to elucidate the functional role of specific genes in this complex tissue. Another advantage of xenotransplantation and xenograft models of the human endometrium is their use to investigate endometrial effects of new compounds and drugs without needing to give them to women. Underpinning the molecular mechanisms underlying endometrial functions is critical to ultimately advance our understanding of endometrial pathophysiology and develop targeted therapies to prevent and cure endometrial pathologies as well as enhance endometrial function when it is desired for fertility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDifferentiation
Volume98
Early online date10 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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